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PART II

remaining underway. To be underway on the way in order to clear the way—that is one thing. The other thing is to take a position somewhere along the road, and there make conversation about whether, and how, earlier and later stretches of the way may be different, and in their difference might even be incompatible—incompatible, that is, for those who never walk the way, nor ever set out on it, but merely take up a position outside it, there forever to formulate ideas and make talk about the way.

In order to get underway, we do have to set out. This is meant in a double sense: for one thing, we have to open ourselves to the emerging prospect and direction of the way itself; and then, we must get on the way, that is, must take the steps by which alone the way becomes a way.

The way of thinking cannot be traced from somewhere to somewhere like a well-worn rut, nor does it at all exist as such in any place. Only when we walk it, and in no other fashion, only, that is, by thoughtful questioning, are we on the move on the way. This movement is what allows the way to come forward. That the way of thought is of this nature is part of the precursoriness of thinking, and this precursoriness in turn depends on an enigmatic solitude, taking the word "solitude" in a high, unsentimental sense.

No thinker ever has entered into another thinker's solitude. Yet it is only from its solitude that all thinking, in a hidden mode, speaks to the thinking that comes after or that went before. The things which we conceive and assert to be the results of thinking, are the misunderstandings to which thinking ineluctably falls victim. Only they achieve publication as alleged thought, and occupy those who do not think.

To answer the question "What is called thinking?" is itself always to keep asking, so as to remain underway. This would seem easier than the intention to take a firm position; for adventurer-like, we roam away into the unknown.


Martin Heidegger (GA 8) What Is Called Thinking?